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America Supports You: Coca Cola 600 Salutes the Military

By Terri Lukach
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, May 26, 2005 – Lowe's is set to present a special tribute to the U.S. military at the Coca Cola 600 Memorial Day Race May 29 in Concord, N.C.

The nationwide home improvement chain is a main sponsor of Lowe's Motor Speedway, home of the annual NASCAR event. Lowe's also is part of DoD's America Supports You program, which showcases how Americans across the country are supporting the troops.

This year's race theme salutes those serving the cause of freedom in Afghanistan, Iraq and other places around the world, according to H. A. Wheeler, speedway president and general manager. As part of the appreciation, the racetrack has made 1,000 free tickets to Coca Cola 600 available to military personnel.

As part of pre-race activities, Wheeler will present Joint Chiefs Vice Chairman Marine Gen. Peter Pace with the 2005 Stonewall Jackson Award. The award "recognizes a person, persons or unit that demonstrate, by example, the highest standards of patriotism through personal support of the military and the security of the United States of America," Wheeler wrote in a letter to Pace about the award.

"Your endless support of the ideals of our country and your military record in the service of our nation, in peace and war, has been instrumental in the development of our military, and second to none," Wheeler noted. "Your leadership in the Marine Corps, from rifle platoon leader in Vietnam through all levels of command, has certainly demonstrated that you are a leader.

As the first Marine Joint Chiefs vice chairman, Wheeler continued, "we know of no more deserving person to receive this award."

Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. John P. Jumper is also slated to attend.

Several military units will take part in pre-race activities. These include Army Reserve drill sergeants, who will form a driver cordon as the drivers are introduced, and members of the Golden Knights parachute demonstration team, who will participate in a remembrance event for the nation's fallen.

Also, 12 children of North Carolina servicemembers currently serving overseas will serve as race grand marshals.

Finalists from the popular television contest, "American Idol," will wrap up the pre-race with the national anthem, followed by a flyover of four Air Force F-15 fighters.

In the stands, 6,000 NASCAR fans will perform a card trick from their seats - spelling out the America Supports You logo and message with specially designed placards. Lowe's will give away America Supports You bumper stickers to fans.

Army- and Air Force-sponsored cars will race in this year's Coca Cola 600. Jimmy Johnson, last year's winner, will drive the Lowe's-sponsored Chevrolet racecar, No. 48. During all of May, National Military Appreciation Month, the decklid (trunk) of his car has sported the America Supports You logo in honor of the troops.

Lowe's joined ASY at the Pentagon May 5 during the first America Supports You Salute to the Men and Women of the Armed Forces. During that concert program, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld unveiled two cloth-draped Lowe's-sponsored NASCAR vehicles to the piped-in sound of roaring exhausts and a cheering Pentagon crowd.

As part of their appreciation to the military, Lowe's stores are providing a 10 percent discount today through May 30 to all active, reserve and retired servicemembers and their immediate families, according to information on the company's Web site. Customers must show military identification, and discounts are limited to purchases up to $2,000.

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